Guide to Gargoyles in Pathfinder

The Gargoyle is, to the average Pathfinder player, little more than a big monster than occasionally needs to be slain. Rightly so, too, since most Gargoyles are unpleasant creatures that would just as soon bite your head off as talk to you. That doesn’t, however, preclude the possibility of getting a Gargoyle on your team, or perhaps even playing one yourself…

The Gargoyles of Pathfinder are interesting creatures. Typically living on their own – but sometimes forming small clans called ‘wings’ – Gargoyles are petty, vindictive, hoarding monsters that hunker down in urban areas, where their appearance begins to take on that of their surroundings. They’re capable of hiding in plain site quite easily, and do so during the day so they can hunt easily at night.

That said, Gargoyles are not restricted to activity in the night as legends suggest, and can serve perfectly well as player characters… though you’ll probably have to make some adjustments to use one.

Gargoyles are not normally a playable race in Pathfinder. As CR 4 monsters they’re reasonably strong, and giving one a class without any changes to the base stats won’t work very well since the character will be above and beyond everyone else.

Why? Well, going by the 3.5 rules on the Gargoyle’s starting stats, they get:

– +4 to Strength

– +4 to Dexterity

– +8 to Constitution

– -4 to Intelligence

– -4 to Charisma

– Wings

– Darkvision to 60 feet

– +4 natural armor bonus to their AC

– Damage resistance 10, except to magic

The Pathfinder rules do away with some of the perks, but most remain intact… and would-be Gargoyle players will have to go with the 3.5 rules anyway. So what’s to be done if you want to play a Gargoyle character, an obvious boon for anybody who wishes to go physical?

The obvious route is simply to stick to the 3.5 rules. By doing so your Gargoyle will have to accept a +5 level adjustment, which forces your character to start taking a class at level six – a big blow to that class. The Gargoyle, despite the statistical bonuses, will fall well behind everyone else – and besides, Pathfinder doesn’t deal in level adjustments.

More practical is to remove some of the Gargoyle’s abilities. Pathfinder characters are already inflated above normal; you can therefore keep some of the statistical bonuses while weeding out others. For example, bringing the Gargoyle’s Constitution down to +4 or +6 will help balance the character, as will lowering its Dexterity a smidge. You can also eliminate the damage resistance, a major component of a strong Gargoyle NPC, and limit the effectiveness of the wings until the character reaches higher levels. All this should bring the Gargoyle more in line with other races.

The average Gargoyle, regardless of what you do, will never be part of a magic-casting class outside possibly a Wisdom-based class, and even then you’re just wasting the Gargoyle’s other stats. It’s best, when playing a Gargoyle, to be either a Fighter or a Barbarian, as both take advantage of the Gargoyle’s massive physical stats. The Constitution bonus in particular is great for turning a Gargoyle into a tank. Their ability to hide in plain sight, to freeze and to fly also makes them excellent scouts, so long as they’re in an area where stone statues don’t stick out.

Playing a Gargoyle is lots of fun. You’re apt to be a bit brainless and generally unpleasant, true, but you’ll prove a major asset to your party as a powerhouse, especially when you add class skills onto the Gargoyle’s already imposing strengths.